Death Taxes

Death Taxes

What are the taxes on death?

Death taxes are taxes imposed by the federal and / or state government on a person’s estate upon death. These taxes are levied on the beneficiary who receives the property in the will of the deceased or the estate which pays the tax before the transfer of the inherited property.

Taxes on death are also called death tax, inheritance tax or inheritance tax.

Death taxes explained

Death tax can be any tax imposed on the transfer of property after the death of a person. The term “death tax” was first coined in the 1990s to describe inheritance and inheritance taxes by those wishing to repeal taxes. With the estate tax, the estate of the deceased pays the tax before the assets are transferred to the beneficiary. With inheritance tax, the person who inherits the assets pays.

Inheritance tax, billed by the federal government and some state governments, is based on the value of property and assets at the time of the owner’s death. Since 2020, federal inheritance tax has represented 40% of the amount of the inheritance. Eleven states impose a state property tax separate from that of the federal government. These states are Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The federal government doesn’t impose inheritance taxes, but several states do – Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. However, in all of these states, property passed on to a surviving spouse is exempt from inheritance tax. Nebraska and Pennsylvania impose taxes on property passed on to a child or grandchild.

Most people end up not paying the death tax because it only applies to a few people. For example, the 2020 federal tax law applies estate tax to any amount greater than $ 10 million, which, when indexed for inflation, allows individuals to pass on $ 11.2 million and couples transfer twice that amount ($ 22.4 million) without paying a tax cent. For example, suppose an individual leaves $ 12.2 million (given inflation) in non-exempt assets for their children. The amount higher than the federal level, namely $ 12.2 million – $ 11.2 million = $ 1 million, will be subject to inheritance tax. Therefore, the estate will have a tax payable on death of 40% x $ 1 million = $ 400,000. As long as the deceased’s estate is valued at an amount less than the exemption amount applicable for the year of death, the estate will not owe any federal estate tax.

The unified tax credit has a fixed amount that an individual can offer during their lifetime before death or donation taxes apply. The tax credit unifies the taxes on donations and inheritances in a single tax system which reduces the tax bill of the individual or the estate, dollar to dollar. Since some people prefer to use unified tax credits to save on estate taxes after their death, the unified tax credit cannot be used to reduce taxes on gifts in their lifetime, and can instead be used on the amount of inheritance bequeathed to beneficiaries after death.

Another provision available to reduce the tax on death is the unlimited marital deduction, which allows a person to transfer an unlimited amount of assets to his spouse at any time, including on the death of the transferor, tax free. . This eliminates both the federal estate tax and donations on transfers of property between spouses, effectively treating them as a single economic unit. Transfer to surviving spouses is possible thanks to an unlimited deduction of inheritance and gift tax which defers transfers on property inherited from each other until the death of the second spouse. In other words, the unlimited matrimonial deduction allows married couples to delay the payment of inheritance tax on the death of the first spouse, because after the death of the surviving spouse, all assets in the estate exceeding the applicable exclusion amount will be included in the survivor’s taxable estate. unless the assets are exhausted or donated during the life of the surviving spouse.

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